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Resource Review Thursday: Motherisk Provides Drug Safety Information for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Moms

hiking at 40 weeks pregnant

Being pregnant is uncomfortable.  The protuding belly stretches, joints loosen and ache, and the heartburn, oh, the heartburn.  Let’s not forget the nausea, exhaustion, swollen ankles, varicose veins and skin discoloration.  At least my hair looked good.

However, if a pregnant woman has an illness, chronic health condition, addiction or mental health disorder during her pregnancy, being unsure about whether to continue to take any drugs or medications can not only result in her feeling even more uncomfortable, it can cause major risks to her health and well being.

Most pregnant women truly want to do what is best for their unborn child, but it can be confusing and difficult to find good information about drug safety during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.  That’s why today’s resource review is all about Motherisk.org, a resource dedicated to providing information on drug safety and neonatal health for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Current Research and Easy to Understand Information

The Motherisk.org website is an excellent source of information founded on solid, up-to-date research on neonatal health, nutrition and teratogens, which are substances that can cause deformities and birth defects in unborn babies.  The information is presented in a straightforward, easy to understand way.  Most descriptions avoid clinical jargon, and where medical terminology is used the terms are all clearly defined.  A list of commonly questioned drugs and medications is available, and for drugs that don’t appear on the list they are easily brought up using the search box.  All drug information is tailored specifically for it’s relevance to pregnant and breastfeeding women, so you don’t have to wade through the risks to every single population in order to find what you want.

Motherisk Helplines

If you’re really not sure whether something is safe to use, take, eat or be exposed to during pregnancy, you can call Motherisk’s toll-free helplines.  Listed on the front page of their website, they have specific lines for alcohol and substance use, morning sickness, HIV and HIV treatment and a general Home Line.  Sometimes you really need to talk to someone, and if you’re really worried about a drug that your baby might have been exposed to before you knew you were pregnant, talking to a counselor on the phone can help address your worries in a constructive way.   The helplines are open 9am – 5pm EST, Monday to Friday.  The alcohol and substance use line is open 9am-5pm across each of the North American time zones.

Other Motherisk Health Initiatives

Motherisk is part of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, which is a health-care, teaching and research centre dedicated exclusively to children and is affiliated with the University of Toronto.  In addition to the Motherisk.org website and helplines, Motherisk also runs a clinic in Toronto, which can be accessed by appointment.  Motherisk also works to increase awareness of neonatal health and the impact of drugs and other substances on unborn children by working with researchers, teaching toxicology and pharmacology classes at the University of Toronto, educating health professionals and helping employers evaluate workplace safety for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Some women sail through their pregnancies with nothing more than the usual discomforts, but if you have been exposed to a drug or substance that you’re worried might harm your unborn baby, or you need to make a choice about whether to continue taking medication for a chronic condition, Motherisk is a good place to get good information and trustworthy advice.

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